I need tiny displays for an art project
August 30, 2016 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I want to make some figurative sculptures, roughly life-size. I'd like to have the eyes be displays showing video recordings of actual human eyes looking around and blinking. I'm not sure what to use for this.

Ideally, I'd use two small lcd displays or the like, roughly 3" square which would be embedded in the hollow sculptures, which would also house the wiring. Do these exist?

-The resolution doesn't necessarily have to be that great on the displays. If it has to be pixellated, that's fine.
-I'm doing four sculptures, so I'll need eight of these displays. I'd rather not pay more than $30 for each one. No idea how realistic that is.
-I pondered using used smartphones, but not sure how cheaply they can be acquired, or how I'd play a loop of the videos.
-Is this something the Raspberry Pi/Arduino crowd might know about?
posted by picea to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, arduino screens like that definitely exist. Here's a 3.5" for $44, though out of stock.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:05 PM on August 30, 2016

Off-brand versions can be found on Ebay.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:08 PM on August 30, 2016

3rd generation iPod Nanos handle video on a sharp, small screen. Price might be right on the used market. Easy to put a video on.
posted by The Deej at 7:11 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Amazon Fire tablets might work. They are like $50 and, provided you can make them fit, could do both eyes on one screen.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 7:11 PM on August 30, 2016

Samsung Galaxy Centura Android Prepaid Phone, like $15 on Amazon.
It has a 3.5 inch display. Video capable, so they can certainly play it.
Likely to be many details to attend to (brightness, synchronization, custom software, etc).
posted by the Real Dan at 7:15 PM on August 30, 2016

How about using a cheap dash cam? You can load the video onto the micro-sd card for playback.
posted by Sophont at 7:24 PM on August 30, 2016

You might be able to use these small TFTs and arduino to control them.
posted by nightwood at 7:25 PM on August 30, 2016

An arduino is pretty weak for this sort of thing (even the newer ARM ones). I think the higher-res color screens (like 320x240) at adafruit have microSD cards and the arduino is just choosing bitmaps off the card to display. But maybe that works for your application, dunno. The raspberry pi on the other hand has a real display controller, video decoder, and enough ram to easily drive an lcd panel.
posted by ryanrs at 8:17 PM on August 30, 2016

A friend of mine did this project for a costume which I think is exactly what you need. It looks REALLY good in person. The glass lens over the LEDs really makes it look great, I would definitely do that.
posted by miyabo at 8:26 PM on August 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yes, this is something the Raspberry Pi/Arduino crowd knows about.

A stock Arduino would have great difficulty displaying animation frames fast enough, and you'd need external storage to hold the frames. A faster driver option might be a Teensy 3.2 with something like the Prop Shield With Motion Sensors to handle motion and data storage.

The list at LCD Modules ยท notro/fbtft Wiki has a breakdown of small cheap displays that work as a Raspberry Pi display. I don't know if many people have tried to do two displays at once, though. Some of these displays are really cheap, like $3 if you're able to handle 6-8 week shipping times from Hong Kong.
posted by scruss at 6:19 AM on August 31, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks all, some great options to investigate shared here!
posted by picea at 8:09 AM on September 1, 2016

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